LWM Co-ordinator Karen Leach advocates that both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigners take the initiative, capitalise on the passion of people on both sides and begin dialogue on progressive politics for our area on our terms . . .
No stranger to this dialogue, LWM’s George Morran wrote earlier this year:
“The reality of devolution has to be grasped for the English Regions and their local communities; we need new constitutional and economic settlements which downsize and refocus Westminster and Whitehall; power, resources and democratic accountability have to be transferred to local communities, and those functions needing a regional approach should be taken on by elected regional governments able to work as equals with the devolved governments which exist in the rest of the UK.
“The localisation of government in England will help shift the approach to economic development from globalisation to the local, promoting civic pride and involvement.”
Karen added some relevant detail after the mayoral referendum:
- We can investigate the potential for strategic collaboration – mayoral or otherwise – across local authority boundaries, leaving local authorities’ democracies intact, and push for a conurbation-sized city deal. Greater Manchester offers us one model.
- We can also press for urban parish or community councils.
- We can investigate the potential for citizen-led economic development programmes such as are successful in creating socially beneficial economies many parts of Canada and America, to balance the economically centralist drivers of LEPs.
- We should certainly discuss how local governance can get the best balance between diverse and decentralised representative democracy, efficient decision-making, transparency and resilience to vested interests.
“There may well be new Birmingham councillors keen to see change and willing to talk about new ideas.”
In similar vein, note Democratise Birmingham, a new space in the Birmingham Press, designed to allow for debate, opinion, news and information about the shape and direction of democracy within Britain’s second city, the largest single local authority in Europe.